If you have low back pain (and you probably do!) you know how bothersome it can be. Back injuries can result from sports injuries, car accidents, whiplash, falling, back arthritis from aging, and sometimes from no apparent reason at all! Back injuries can stop you from working, exercising, or participating in the activities that you love. Millions of Americans suffer from this issue every day, but what are the best treatments to fix back pain? In fact, there are many things to do to effectively treat lumbar pain.
- Rest – Not overdoing it is important, especially when it comes to acute lower back pain, so rest up as needed!
- Heat & Ice – Is it better to use heat or ice for back pain? That’s a great question, and the answer is both! In the early stages of an injured back, you should use ice for the first day or two to decrease the inflammatory cascade. Once it has been more than 48 hours since your injury, you should switch to heat, which will increase blood flow to flush out any built up inflammatory toxins and optimize healing.
- Anti-inflammatory Medications – Over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and Aleve, and prescription level anti-inflammatories like Naprosyn, Mobic / meloxicam, Celebrex, and Voltaren / diclofenac all work by decreasing acute inflammation. They don’t heal your injury, but they can help slow down the inflammation potentially speed up your recovery. Anti-inflammatories may be particularly useful in the first 48 hours of acute back pain.
- Muscle Relaxers – These medications include baclofen and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) among others and they work at the spinal cord level to ease some of the muscle tension in your lower back. Their benefit is somewhat limited and controversial.
- Walking – There have been multiple studies that walking in itself may help with lower back pain, especially if the back pain is more chronic (long-lasting) than acute (recently injured). There is also some benefit from light cardiovascular exercise programs for the recovery from lower back pain. If you have chronic low back pain and spinal pain, you may also benefit from yoga and directed stretching therapy, but check with your spinal specialist if you have any concerns!
- Aqua Therapy – Taking off some of the weight off your spine and moving around in a low impact environment offers some lumbar decompression benefit and may allow you to better stretch and move easier so that you can complete your spinal reconditioning exercises.
- Stretching – If the source of your lower back pain is muscle spasms, there is some benefit from stretch therapy of those spastic muscle groups. It’s best to do those stretches first under the guidance of a licensed professional until you feel comfortable doing the home physical therapy exercises for low back pain on your own.
- Physical Therapy – There is no doubt that physical therapy can help you to improve your posture, fitness, and awareness of your body, and even increase your spinal awareness. Our practice regularly refers our clients to the top physical therapists in Los Angeles to treat low back pain.
- Chiropractic Therapy – It’s not just about the cracks (high-velocity low-amplitude) spinal manipulation. Chiropractic therapy also incorporates soft tissue mobilization, and the adjustments are typically focused on the treatment of the lumbar facet joints and capsules, which are common causes of low back pain. Our practice regularly refers our clients to the top chiropractors in Los Angeles to treat low back pain.
- Acupuncture – There is data showing that acupuncture can be effective in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain for up to 6 months, although the therapy seems to become less effective after that. There are even studies showing changes to the proteins in the spinal space with acupuncture therapy! Our practice regularly refers our clients to the top acupuncturists in Los Angeles to treat low back pain.
- MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging can help doctors see inside your back to identify the cause of your low back pain. If your lower back pain is not resolving with the above therapies after a couple of weeks, or if you have low back pain radiating into your hip, buttock, or leg like sciatica, then you should consider having an MRI. There is definitely some value to being able to image the lumbar discs, facet capsules, and other “softer” structures that X-rays or a CT scan will not show!
- See a Top Rated Spine Specialist – An evaluation by a spinal specialist, such as by an interventional pain physician, orthopedic back doctor, neurosurgeon spine specialist, or other spine and orthopedic physician for an accurate diagnosis and workup and other treatment options. Treatments require special training and skill, so be sure to go to the best spine doctor you can find.
Dr. Enayati, a board-certified interventional pain physician, is consistently rated as a top spine doctor and renowned interventional orthopedic spine specialist in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. His expertise includes a re-read and second opinion regarding your MRI, and procedures and other treatment options that are tailored to you!